Turmeric Milk – Should You Hop on the Trend Train?
A quick hop onto social media or your favorite lifestyle, health and fitness, and recipe blog will likely lead you to find at least one article or entry touting the benefits of turmeric milk. Definitely a more recent foodie fad, turmeric milk is essentially exactly what it sounds like: milk spiced with turmeric, a bright yellow powder traditionally used in Asian cuisine that boasts a full flavor profile with a ‘gingery’ kick. Prior to the last five years though (though it has only been in the last eighteen months to two years that turmeric milk has really gained traction in popularity), you likely never heard of turmeric milk, and you definitely were not reading Instagram posts on why it is the next best thing to replace your morning cup of coffee (or compliment… no judgment on double fisting here!) or how it can help improve your health.
What Exactly is Turmeric?
Turmeric is an exotic spice made from the tubular roots of a plant contained within the ginger root family. It is most commonly grown in India (though it can also be found in other parts of Asia) which makes sense since it is the spice that gives curry its yellow tint. Turmeric can be found in a variety of Asian dishes other than in just curry-based ones though: its slightly bitter taste gives a subtle but delicious flavor to many simple meals, like scrambled eggs, cooked rice, roasted vegetables, and hot soups. Aside from being a staple in many Asian kitchen cupboards though, turmeric has been used for hundreds of years for non-cooking uses as well. Because of its yellow tint, it served as the main ingredient in women’s makeup and skin toner for darker complected ladies. And turmeric is said to help treat an itchy scalp or head full of dandruff when mixed with oil and rubbed directly into the hair to set for fifteen minutes before being washed out. It also was often used as a dye for clothing, fabric, clay, art, etc. Beyond just aesthetics, ancient civilizations in India and around Asia swore by its medicinal benefits. It was known to treat skin boils. Users mixed it with water into a thick paste and would apply it directly to the boil. They would also use it to disinfect minor wounds, cuts, and even burns when mixed together with a naturally occurring aloe vera extract.
What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric Milk?
Before we dive into why drinking a glass of turmeric milk (or “Gold Milk”) before bed might just be your next best-kept health secret, we should probably let you know what it is. Basically, it is exactly what it sounds. Grab yourself your carton of milk. It can be of the skim, whole, almond, soy, or cashew variety. Doesn’t really matter! Just whatever your preference. Start by mixing one cup of milk with a ¾ teaspoon of turmeric powder in a cup or bowl. You will likely want to add a little bit of sweetener, as well, for taste (we prefer a teaspoon of honey but you can also use agave, sugar, or sugar substitute). And if you like a little bit of kick, add a pinch of pepper! Bring the entire mixture to a boil in a pan over high heat, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a minute or so, so the flavors meld together nicely. You can then choose to sip it hot or store a batch in the fridge to cool it off and drink it chilled.
Aside from the skin and hair health benefits, turmeric milk can help promote better sleep when consumed before bed. It promotes and eases your digestive system, which is a big part of aiding in a restful nights’ sleep. It has also been linked to helping increase antibodies in your body, to fight off free radicals and lower your body’s susceptibility to diseases (including carcinogens, which can lead to cancer) and boost your immune system. Folks who feel a cold coming on, in particular, have touted the defense properties of drinking turmeric milk when they are starting to feel sick.
Can Turmeric Milk Benefit me as a Runner?
One of the last things you want to deal with when you are preparing for a big race or just simply trying to stick to your training plan is a cold or flu-like symptom. When you start to feel the onset of the sniffles, drink a glass or two of turmeric milk. (Better yet, simply start incorporating it into your daily nighttime or breakfast ritual!) And if you struggle to relax your mind at night, try turmeric milk for its sleep benefits. Runners NEED good sleep. Sleep helps promote recovery and muscle growth, as well as resets your brain and helps you take on mental (and physical) challenges with more patience and determination. Working through the tough mental and physical battles of a hard run are apart of every runner’s journey, and you definitely do not want to make it harder on yourself by not having enough sleep. However, one of the best ways turmeric milk can help you as a runner is through its anti-inflammatory properties, which have been linked to helping ease joint pain. So many of us suffer from achy knees, hips, and ankles during our runs. Homeopathic doctors often prescribe turmeric extracts to folks with arthritis and osteoarthritis, to help relieve pain in a way similar to taking over the counter ibuprofen medicines.